The Ninjabot

“If it’s in a Word, or it’s in a Look…” We Can’t Get Enough of ‘The Babadook’

Posted on December 10, 2014 at 11:48 am by Logan Boggs

By now, you’ve probably heard rumblings of a little Australian horror movie called The Babadook, written and directed by Jennifer Kent. A Sundance darling, Kent’s first feature film was finally released online and On Demand  in late November, and the internet has been abuzz ever since.

The Babadook-- poster

The Bababook has been universally lauded by critics and horror fans alike, and rightfully so. Some of horror’s heaviest hitters, including William Friedkin and Stephen King, have sung the film’s highest praises. Friedkin, the director of a little film you might remember called The Exorcist, took to Twitter to exclaim his love for Kent’s masterpiece: “I’ve never seen a more terrifying film than The Babadook. It will scare the hell out of you as it did me.” If that’s not enough for you, I’m not sure what is.

Over and over again, it has been called the “scariest movie of the past decade,” “the scariest movie of the year,” and has even been referred to as “the scariest movie of the 21st century.” But what differentiates The Babadook from other recent horror offerings? There are no bloodthirsty serial killers, no unstoppable demons, and no possessed dolls present; this film delves deeply into the psychological horror of the mind, showing the tole that intensely negative emotions like depression, grief and hatred can take on a person’s psyche. If you’re not a fan of spoilers, please steer clear of this review; come back once you’ve had a chance to enjoy the film.

The movie follows a young widow, Amelia (Essie Davis), and her more-than-challenging son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman). Tragically, Amelia’s husband died in a horrific car accident taking her to the hospital to deliver their son. From the beginning of the film, it is clear that Amelia is hanging on by a thread, trying desperately to keep her life from finally unraveling. She works a stressful and thankless job with an overbearing boss, her sister is wholly unsupportive, and her son’s outbursts continue to spiral into full-blown, violent outbursts, one of which earns him an expulsion from his elementary school. To make matters worse, she is completely consumed with grief over her husband’s death and a growing animosity for her problem child.

One evening, an ominous book entitled ‘Mister Babadook’ appears on Samuel’s shelf. Delighted, he chooses the story for his mother to read to him before he is tucked in for bed.  Filled with unsettling charcoal drawings and sinister rhymes, the book alarms Amelia  and sends Samuel into a fit.

Convinced that the Babadook is real, Samuel begins to act out even further, becoming infatuated with the creature. He tries to advise his mother of the Babadook’s existence, and her impending doom, but of course, Samuel is written off.  Amelia shreds the book’s pages and dumps it in the trash, thinking that she has disposed of the problem.

Little does she know that the more she denies the Babadook’s presence, the stronger he becomes. The book winds up back on their doorstep, this time with a new, and even more malevolent message. Eventually, the family’s haunting becomes so intense that Amelia has no choice but to succumb to the realization that her son was right about the Babadook all along. Unfortunately for her, she was a bit too late.

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The Babadook slowly begins to infiltrate Amelia as foretold in the book, causing her to become unhinged. She lashes out, killing her dog, and eventually tries to strangle Samuel, just as the book bode. With Samuel’s help, she summons enough internal strength to eradicate the Babadook from inside her body. After a final showdown, the Babadook retreats to the basement, where Amelia later confronts and cares for the creature, feeding it worms from her garden.

There are several instances throughout the film that makes the viewer question if the Babadook is a physical entity, or merely a projection of Amelia’s mental illness. It is even suggested that she subconsciously wrote the book and planted it in Samuel’s room, destroyed it multiple times, and put it back together again. Amelia never truly gets rid of the menacing Babadook, just as people suffering from depression, anxiety, grief and other mental illnesses never truly eliminate those feelings. The visual of her feeding the cornered Babadook is an eerie visual representing the fact that we all have dark parts of our personalities that we suppress on a daily basis, and for some of us, the lines between sanity and a complete mental breakdown are often blurred.

Written and directed from a woman’s point of view, The Babadook takes a classic boogeyman scenario and brings an extensive amount of freshness to the table. The film creates a hauntingly beautiful visual representing the trials and tribulations of motherhood along with the harsh reality of postpartum depression. It is an absolute must-watch.

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You can watch The Babadook On Demand, on Amazon Prime, or iTunes. There is currently a limited theatrical release for the film, but it may be released in more theaters soon due to its success.

 

The Babadook: A

You can follow Logan on Twitter @LoganBoggs

 

    • go fish

      I loved this film. It felt like a horror story tailor made for me. I’m a single mother with a young son. I suffered from post partum depression and had a very difficult time connecting with him. I had dark moments of lethargy, anger, and resentment and this film took that to the nth degree. I found the ending strangely uplifting, because she won. She defeated the demon and the depression and became a good mother to her quirky awkward son. For the first time in a long time I felt like I wasn’t alone. The Babadook was with me long before I saw this movie. I feel like something inside me has lifted. I cannot thank the director of this movie enough.

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